CROSSPOST: Alastair Sloan
Any visitor to the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) website will find open and informative accounts of much of the organisation’s activities. Information abounds about trips to Israel on which hundreds of activists, candidates, MPs and peers have been shown carefully around the West Bank and Israel proper. They never go to Gaza, though, where the scale of the humanitarian crisis is so grave that no amount of Israeli spin could cover up the unethical monstrosity that is the illegal blockade.
The trip which took place in late August, for example, included five Conservative MPs, named and photographed on the CFI website as Stuart Andrew, Conor Burns, Philip Davies, Jonathan Djanogly and John Howell, as well as two peers and CFI officials. In a further tribute to the transparency with which CFI organises these trips, it was happy to reference the positive coverage that the trip received in the Times of Israel, the Jewish Chronicle and the Jerusalem Post. The Electoral Commission register is subsequently populated by new entries, as each MP properly declares that the CFI covered all the travel expenses for the trip; the register is available for anyone to search for free, online. This hardly seems like a secretive organisation, at least not when it comes to organising PR trips to Israel.
CROSSPOST: Yvonne Ridley
“Viva Palestina” is an enduring chant along with “Long Live Palestine” and “Long Live Gaza”, all of which are often used by human rights activists and others who want to show their support and goodwill for the long life and well-being of the state and its people. However, using such slogans and messages of solidarity could soon become a hate crime in Scotland, a nation which has often been praised for its refusal to give unconditional support to Israel and its brutal military occupation of Palestine.
To the astonishment of legal observers and human rights activists, a landmark trial is set to go ahead in Aberdeen after Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) member Alister Coutts, 56, was charged with “acting in a racially aggravated manner with intent to cause distress and alarm”. His “crime” was to utter “Viva Palestina” next to the Jericho Cosmetics stall in the city’s Union Square shopping mall.
His arrest, charge and impending court appearance has now fuelled speculation that pro-Israel Zionist groups in Scotland are exerting undue pressure on the authorities to “get tough” with SPSC and other Palestinian-supporting groups. Following an initial crime investigation the police will send a report to the local Procurator Fiscal, who will consider the content and decide whether to take any further action.
Selective application and outrage of various freedoms is instructive of the neoconservative agenda to dehumanise and alienate Muslims as the manufactured enemy.
Neoconservatives have constructed their angst and hatred on the culturalist notions that the Muslim (“Islamist”) world is attacking free speech and therefore Western culture through responses to various provocations. This is precisely the position held by anti-Muslim neocon Michael Gove.
When Angela Merkel acceded to Ankara’s request to prosecute a comedian who recited an offensive poem about the Turkish president, neocons went into overdrive. To note, the Turks called on Merkel to enforce existing German law.
Pro-Israel activists have been gathering momentum in their concerted effort to conflate Zionism with Judaism/Jewish identity and therefore censor particular references and discourses.
Based on dubious and deceptive conflation, several Labour MPs have been suspended. Notable organisations fronting these efforts are “feeder” groups which often forward information onto other Israel lobby groups like the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council. These grassroots organisations are linked to other organisations which have been, for instance, directly responsible for the eventual suspension of Jackie Walker – a Jewish anti-racism activist who made the “mistake” of saying “millions more Africans were killed in the African Holocaust”. Similar conflations by these organisations have been made about NUS President Malia Bouattia (see here and here, for instance).
A brief peruse down the social media timelines shows that some of their campaigns have targeted (I would argue legitimately) those instances which genuinely constitute anti-Semitism. This, however is insidiously supplemented by a concerted campaign to confuse anti-Israel views and political activism with anti-Semitism. Bullying and intimidation tactics, like in the case of Walker, are adopted to force this conflation. In doing so, boundaries on what can and cannot be articulated about Israel are redrawn and free speech – the favoured neocon invocation for anti-Islam hate – is assaulted. The organisations also profess views which are often aired from the Zionist far-right.
The British government’s campaign against the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, which sees public authorities and possibly student unions prohibited from boycotting companies effectively operating illegally in Palestinian occupied territories, is morally bankrupt at the least, and an endorsement of violations of international law and various illegal settlements and annexations. Moreover, it is an unfettered threat to local democracy and the much vaunted “British value” of free speech – remember that one?
In a detailed piece on the role of dual, British/Israeli nationals and their loyalties, I highlighted how pro-Israeli backers of David Cameron, his party, and those like Greg Clarke who promote Zionist massacre-whitewashing lobby groups, have articulated and realised their aim of using law to suppress the BDS movement.
Pro-Israel activists like the aforementioned meanwhile, have acted as conduits for not British interests, but Zionist ones, to the detriment of the reputation of Britain. For all of David Cameron’s spiel of human rights and accountability, and promoting these “British values” internationally, he has acted as effective muscle to force through policies for an entity which has lost its legitimacy, and which continues to demonstrate this.
In my previous set of blogs (here and here), we saw how those groups connected to “foreign influences” – the sophisticated pro-Israel lobby and neoconservative “think-tanks” – have bullied through unethical policies and laws which have deteriorated civil liberties. Characteristic amongst these lobby groups which have unquestioned loyalties to a foreign belligerent state is the use of threat and intimidation; not toeing the pro-Israel line means no “donations”, as accurately demonstrated by Ed Miliband’s condemnation of the 2014 Gaza massacre. And no donations means a lesser likelihood of attaining power. It is similar to how these behavioural traits manifest in other areas of politics. In place of diplomacy, neocon like to utilise “Hard Wilsonianism” urging the benevolent bombing of “peace” and “freedom” into the hearts of (mainly) Muslim communities throughout the Middle East in concert with Zionist strategic interests. At home, bullying has been used effectively against those who politically dissent against government policies by being hounded by a press using strategies devised by neocons. There is also, of course, using the law to force compliance to state ideology and policies through PREVENT. In the words of Machiavelli, approvingly quoted by the “godfather of neoconservatism” Irving Kristol:
“for neither conscious nor shame ought to have any influence upon you… those who obtain great power do so either by force or fraud, and having got them they conceal under some honest name the foulness of their deeds”.
There is a darker side to this bullying and intimidation. Wrongdoing over the years, like donation scandals and buying or selling influence, which would result in a cacophony of press coverage accompanied by vigorous laws and regulation if the perpetrators were Muslim, barely attracts a slap on the wrist where individuals involved have been linked to pro-Israel lobby groups.
This is a continuation of a previous article which can be found here. David Cameron demanded that if people “walk our streets, learn our schools, benefit from our society, you sign up to our values. Freedom. Tolerance. Responsibility. Loyalty.” The question is, who indeed is Cameron and his neoconservative syndicate “loyal” to?
Some of the biggest backers of Cameron’s party are also linked to neoconservative/pro-Israeli lobbying and activism.
David Harding, for instance, who has donated £600,000 has spoken at the neoconservative Policy Exchange and has also financially contributed to fundraisers for ARK – the notorious charity backed by neocon Michael Gove, and linked to Michael Wilshaw. It has aggressively taken over schools in Muslim majority schools which Ofsted (headed by Wilshaw) placed into special measures in the aftermath of the Trojan Hoax lies.